Top 10 Places to See in New York City

I wrote to my friend Mike in New York and asked him about his top 10 places to see in NYC.

Hi Mike,

I just found out that you are based in NYC. I didn’t notice that before. Yes. I will visit New York soon. The schedule is not fixed, but it should be before the X’mas. I know you must have many tips to share. If I ask you to list the top 10 places to see in NYC, what will you say? :-D

Jian Shuo Wang

Mike replied quickly with his top 10 list of New York City. I found it a very good guide for first time visitors to New York. After checking Mike for permission, I am posting his suggestions here. It may be helpful for other visitors. It may inspire many readers to make their own top 10 list about New York, or their own cities.

(1) Statue of Liberty – most touristy place for out-of-town tourists; a lot of New Yorkers have never visited.

(2) Time Square – crowded, not very far from the MS New York office; there is a place to buy half-priced ticket for Broadway shows for the same night.

(3) The Metropolitan Museum of Art – one of top art museums of the world; takes more than one day to finish; a stroll in the Central Park afterwards is highly recommended.

(4) Rockefeller Center – largest Christmas tree in the world (so claimed); NBC TV studio and store are there.

(5) Chinatown – very crowded, good Cantonese or Sichuan restaurants; next to Little Italy with good Italian food.

(6) The New York Stock Exchange – the center of Capitalism. Wall Street and Ground Zero are nearby too.

(7) The Empire State Building – tallest building after 9/11 with observation deck on top.

(8) Brooklyn Bridge – You can walk on the bridge and have a good view of the East River. The bridge was the tallest structure in the world when it was built late 19 century.

(9) Big Apple Bus Tour – a city-wide bus tour you can hop on and off at many points; good and quick way to see different parts of the city.

(10) Fifth Avenue – Christmas shopping (or just window shopping) for fashion; downtown West Broadway has more upscale fashion boutiques (places where you can shop for your wife but things can be a bit expensive that you will be secretly happy that she does not come along).

I think you should at least go to one good restaurant for Western cuisine and a French bakery for pastry. There are too many good choices to list.

P.S. Mike Wu is a Rapid Response Engineer in Microsoft based on New York City.

Virus Found on this Site Yesterday

Yang Pan and Gordong Wang reported that some pages on this site were infected by a MHTMLRedir.Exploit virus. It is confirmed. How astonishing it was. I built the page from template. The template itself was stored in database and was free of virus. I rebuilt all the pages and everything is OK now. I have complained to the hosting company because I assume it was infected by other threads on the server. Thanks for your report for me to correct the problem quickly.

Shanghai Trail

I learnt a small shop space near Xintiandi only cost around 5000 RMB/month to rent. Not a very bad deal. I dreamed to open an Unofficial Shanghai Tourist Center before. I don’t like the so-called Shanghai Official Tourist Center. They are not helpful as the worst travel company because they have no incentive to attract more visitors to their centers (they are not a profit center so not many people care). In the “unofficial” tourist center, there will be some free articles (printed from this site and other contributing sources) and some volunteers to offer tour guide (in exchange of foreign language practices with native speakers to Shanghai). It may remain a dream until I decide to retire some day. I am serious because retiring early (than age of 40) was my other dream.

The Freedom Trail in Boston inspired me a lot. For a visitor to a completely new city, nothing is more helpful than a pre-selected trail so he/she can follow to see some good places. The places do not have to be the most famous places or the landmarkers. A trail connecting some nice book stores, or typical local resident houses are also appreciated.

I talked about the Shanghai Trail idea (name it Wangjianshuo’s Trail? Haha) with some friends before. It was before I started my Starbucks Trail (Reason). When people suggested me to visit other places than a globally consistant coffee shop, I explained that “It is the trail that connects all the Starbucks that attracted me, instead of the shops.” By connencting the Starbucks, you get a well designed trail showing your the morden aspect of the city – the Starbucks were all selected to the good office buildings. I will draw the trail and you will find how nice the places along the trail is.

Just like this trail, there should be more trails with different aspects of Shanghai, isn’t it?

Fly to US is Cheap

I didn’t believe newsletters from large companies will contain any interesting information. I always flow the “Subscribe, Receive, Delete, Receive, Delete, …., Bothered, Unsubscribe” pattern. The Northwest Airlines latest promotion was an exception. I learnt it only take 1,880 (230 USD) for round trip from Guangzhou to SFO, and 2,880 RMB (350 USD) for round tip to New York. I monitor the air ticket price closely for the U.S. Trip.

29 thoughts on “Top 10 Places to See in New York City

  1. 11th place to go to would be ground zero, world tower. since u go there, why not take a look. :P

  2. Hi JS, until recently, i was diligently researching on a Christmas trip to New York so I’m most glad to share with you, NY websites which i had found. I have seen on tv that the New York Christmas lightings are already on so you’re really lucky!!!

    I would also strongly recommend that you join Flyertalk as you can go through the forums on New York and look for relevant info, & if needed, post questions for others to help you with

    This is their New York Forum (you may browse without joining FlyerTalk)

    I really look forward to seeing your trip report and pictures from US!

  3. JS,

    For NYC, while all the sights you mentioned are great to see, its also very interesting to just walk around the different neighborhoods. For example: Soho, Greenwhich, ect. They have many cool shops, perhaps you would want to buy some gifts for Wendy :-)

    I also like the broadway shows. Usually you can get 50% discounted tickets when you purchase them the same day at TKTS. or if you are just by yourself, go to the box office of the theaters just before the show starts, you may find them 75% off regular price.

  4. I think someone has sorta mentioned this before. If you go to New York Chinatown, early in the morning, you can get on a privately run tour bus which would drive you around for a day of guided tour that would cover 5-6 of the top 10 points including Statue of Liberty, and the United Nations plaza which I think is the 12th must-see. Ask the bus operator first if the day tour includes letting you off at the ferry dock for Libety Island and resuming on the bus again after you have visited the Statue of Liberty.

  5. I agree with JL, one of the coolest parts about New York is the neighbourhoods, many of them little cities in themselves. Make sure to check out Greenwich and the East Village, makes for quite the different impression from Midtown, Downtown, Wall Street, etc.

  6. Since you like trains and subways so much, you can spend a whole day just exploring the subways system (biggest in the world). All it will cost you is $2.00 to boot!!!

    If you fly into JFK airport, you can take the new monorail that connects to the subway. The monorail isn’t that great though. Transfer to subway (far from manhatten) is a bit of a hassle. The whole monorail project was delayed and overran costs for a long time, and I hear a person even died during the testing of it.

  7. JL, you offered very good advice. I was wondering whether I should book tickets (train, air, shows, hotel) early or try my luck to book at the last minute. It seems I can try. If all tickets were sold out, I can still wait for the show of the second day.

    I just bought a book of National Geographic Traveler on New York. Your suggestions are very valuable for me to directly turn to the right page and read.

  8. JS,

    For the broadway shows, I have always been able to get discounted tickets the same day. (I say always, but I’ve only done it a few times :). Because there are so many different shows, you should be able to find something, unless you have some specific show you really want to see. Although I haven’t tried to goto NYC right before christmas, it maybe more crowded with tourist.

    Where are you planning on staying in NYC? Is it difficult to get budget accomadation there? I usually go there for business and it seems like the hotel prices has gone up dramatically in the last year. (doubled).

    As for the train you can always reserve online. ( But on a couple of occasions I just purchased them at the ticket office 1/2 hr before departure. Some routes have very frequent services especially during rush hours. I’m not familiar with train service in other parts of the US. It seems like the services are not as frequent. Train travel is definitely more suitable for the east coast.

    Are you able to find a “lonley planet” book? I really like that travel book. I find it very detailed, and more catered to budget traveler. But I’m sure the books you have are just as good, I’m biased toward it b/c its been a very reliable resource for me when traveling to many unfamiliar places.

    Good luck with your planning. Too bad you are not planning to do any traveling on the west coast!

  9. Jian Shuo,

    Your website was very helpful to me before I moved here from New York, so here’re some ideas on where else you can go/what else you can do from an ex-NYC-er…

    1) If it is not too cold, walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to Brooklyn from Manhattan. Then go to the Brooklyn Promenade and stroll along for a great view of the Manhattan cityscape. Once you are done (or if you’re too frozen), walk down Columbia Heights to Old Fulton Street (the promenade is along Columbia Heights, and just go downhill) and Water Street. Jacques Torres Chocolate Shop is right there, and you can get a cup of his yummy spicy hot chocolate. The area is called Dumbo. You can then take a ferry back to Manhattan (about $3/$4). If you are still hungry after the hot chocolate, one of NYC’s most famous pizzerias is right round the corner on Old Fulton – Grimaldi’s. I think the lines may not be so long in winter.

    2) Go for a drink in the Meatpacking district (try the Gansevoort Hotel rooftop bar). It used to be quite a scene…I’m not sure if it still is, but you can try it. You can have dinner there too – Pastis (such a scene though), Paradou (pretty good French), etc.

    3) Go for a drink at Chumley’s, an old speakeasy. The address is 86 Bedford Street. They still have the concealed entrance, and places where they used to store alcohol during prohibition.

    4) If you have time, take the subway out to Queens and visit MOMA (Museum of Modern Art).

    5) If you like live music, go visit one of the bars that feature live bands – Bitter End, The Bottom Line, Mercury Lounge – usually the cover charge is low (about $5), and the bands are sometimes really good.

    6) Eat, eat and eat more – food in NYC is wonderful. If you are planning a romantic dinner where you are intending to splurge, try Gotham Bar & Grill, Gramercy Tavern, Aquavit, Danube. Other yummy places – The Spotted Pig, The Grocery, Tomoe, Artisanal, Landmarc.

    Hope this is helpful. Have a great trip!

  10. Don’t forget the new opening of MoMA (Musuem of Modern Art) in Manhattan ! It is at 53 St and 6 AV.

  11. hi Jian Shuo,

    I think you might be interested in this blogosphere movement “10 Places of My City” ,which is started by a Chinese blogger named Owen in Dallas.

    “10 Places of My City – Chinese Blogging social movement” (Kevin Wen’s Web)

    “10 Places of My City – Dallas” (Owen’s Blog – 文心)

    “10 Places of My City – Taipei” (太妃糖憂鬱狂歡節│Carol’s Carnival)

    Please visit our blogs,and share more blogosphere.

  12. “I learnt it only take 1,880 (230 USD) for round trip from Guangzhou to SFO, and 2,880 RMB (350 USD) for round tip to New York. I monitor the air ticket price closely for the U.S. Trip.”

    The air tickets are much more expensive these days. I guess the supply couldn’t keep up with the demanding as many folks flock into China… :)

  13. its my husbands 50th in march 2008 and we are going to new york for st pats weekend its a big surprice. we love italian food is there any in new york. what is the weather like in march

  14. “I got ripped off at JFK Airport.”

    Back in 2006, I was picked up at the JFK Airport by a car service only to find myself ripped off.. I was charged $175 just to go from JFK Airport to Manhattan in a regular black sedan. When I questioned the amount, the driver said that we were stuck in traffic and he had to charge extra.

    With the guys from they have always charge me the same price that I was quoted, traffic or no traffic. The drivers are courteous and on time. Best of all, I have not found a cheaper price yet.

    Joseph M. from Arkansas

  15. Hi

    Me and my friend are visiting NYC for the first time in February (its her 30th!!). The information on this website has been fantastic, I am in the process of looking at the websites recommended, so thanks.

    I know New York is the city that never sleeps, so can you suggest some evening acivities. We are hoping to see the Knicks play on the 22nd, will be be able to get tickets at the entrance of Madison Square Gardens on the night? We also want to see a show, not sure which one yet, any suggestions? Also, what else is there to do at night?

    Thank you so much for any help/ideas/suggestions………

    Rach :-)

  16. Me and my fellow girl scouts are going on a trip to New York City. We were wondering if you could email me back with cool sites to get covered in one day because we will only be there one day. We want to know the awesomest sites to see and remember forever …but fun places too.

  17. Hi, I am going on vacation to asia and I have a flight connection in NY, the wait time between flys is 6 hours, I was wondering if there is a good place to visit near the airport. I haven’t been in NY and I want to take the oportunity to visit something nice there.


  18. I’m coming to New York soon and looking for places to shop for gud shiit clothe and stuff. I need da hook-up of were to go, places to see, and I’m from da hood so don’t try anything shisty but if you real hit ya boi back on sum 1 hundered type shiit!

  19. i am going to NY with my grandma and grandpa for 4 days. and i would like to do something and what do you thing i should do because i am going with them to go hunting and sit in the hotel for 4 days 2.

  20. i am going to visit New york in july 15th 2011 please if anyone knows the cheapest hostels, rooms in flats, or hotels please do it.

    I would be very thankful

  21. i am going to visit New york on july 15th 2011 please if anyone knows the cheapest hostels, rooms in flats, or hotels please do it.

    I would be very thankful

  22. I am going to NY for one month this sunday. Any tips July let me know?

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